That Spicy Chick

Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp (Gan Shao Xia)

This Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp (Gan Shao Xia) is quick and easy to make in under 30 minutes and EXPLODING with flavor! Juicy jumbo shrimp get briefly dry-braised in a lip-smacking and addictive garlicky and spicy sauce. It’s irresistibly delicious with a bowl of steamed rice!

Friends, today I’m sharing a childhood favorite dish that is jam-packed with irresistible garlicky and chili flavors – Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp (Gan Shao Xia – 干烧虾). ❤️ It’s super quick and easy to make with a simple stir-fry and dry-braising method (as the name suggests) and ready in under 30 minutes!

We have:

  • Juicy, succulent jumbo shrimp.
  • Fragrant aromatics like garlic, ginger, spring onion (the Chinese holy trinity) and fresh red chilies.
  • Umami loaded Sichuan Pixian dou ban jiang (chili bean paste) and salty and tangy pickled red chilies.
  • Everything gets briefly dry-braised in a mouthwatering savory sauce with a hint of sweetness and toasted sesame aromas!

There are several variations of this dish from different regions in China and abroad. Some add tomato ketchup to the sauce. The Chinese restaurant takeout version in America (commonly known as Sweet and Sour Shrimp there), Shanghainese and Japanese versions follow this practice. However, my version was inspired by the Sichuan style of making this dish in Chengdu and there’s no ketchup involved.

Apart from the succulent jumbo prawns, THE SAUCE coating them is to die for! 😍 I actually make this dish more saucy than typical because it’s incredibly addictive and tasty over steamed rice. You can of course adjust the consistency of the sauce to suit your preference. 👌

Either way, I think you’re going to be licking your plate clean once you try it!

Closeup front view of spicy Szechuan dry braised shrimp in a plate.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Quick and easy to make. It’s ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes!
  • Juicy jumbo shrimp! The succulent naturally sweet juicy shrimp are so YUM when you sink your teeth into them.
  • Irresistible flavors! The garlicky and spicy sauce with a hint of tang is incredibly addictive and tastes SO GOOD with a bowl of steamed rice!
  • Perfect for any occasion. While it’s easy enough to whip up on any given weeknight, it’s also an impressive tasting main dish that’s guaranteed to please when entertaining.

Ingredient Notes

Labeled ingredients for Dry Braised Shrimp (Gan Shao Xia) on a wooden board.
Fresh & Pantry Ingredients
  • Shrimp (or use prawns): You can use either fresh or frozen (and thawed) peeled and deveined shrimp. I like to use size 16/20 (that is, 16 to 20 pieces jumbo sized shrimp per pound). You’ll need to use double the amount if not using pre-peeled and deveined prawns. The weight will be approximately half once peeled.
  • Kosher Salt (to season the shrimp): Use half the amount if using table salt as it is saltier.
  • Fresh Bird’s Eye Red Chilies: Feel free to use any small hot red chilies that are easily available in your area. Use less or omit them for a milder dish.
  • Peanut Oil: Or use any neutral flavored cooking oil. Rapeseed, canola, vegetable oil are all great options.
  • Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang: This is a salty, spicy, and slightly sour paste made with chili peppers and fermented fava beans that comes in plastic jars. Look for it in an Asian or Chinese supermarket. While you can use Lee Kum Kee brand chili bean sauce, note that it has several additional ingredients and is sweeter than authentic Sichuan Pixian dou ban jiang. You may need to use less white sugar to suit your taste preference is using it instead.
  • Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce: Traditionally, pickled er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) are used in Chengdu and the Sichuan region for this dish. As they are not easy to find and spoil quickly when you do find them outside of China, I used Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce. It has a salty, tangy and spicy flavor which I find is a great substitute. You can try to find it in an Asian or Chinese supermarket. Alternatively, grab a jar online. The closest readymade sauce substitute would be sambal oelek, a spicy chili sauce/paste from Indonesia. It is made with a chopped or crushed chilies, a little vinegar and salt. I recommend Huy Fong brand (same brand as the one for the popular Sriracha sauce) for this recipe if substituting. Or you can use a homemade sambal oelek. Mexican or Thai pickled chilies can also be substituted.
Labeled sauce ingredients for Sichuan dry-braised shrimp.
Stir-fry Sauce Ingredients
  • Shao Xing Rice Wine: An Asian pantry staple used in sauces and marinades in Chinese cooking. Use apple juice for a non-alcoholic substitute or dry sherry in a pinch.
  • Potato Starch: Commonly used in marinades and sauces in Chinese cooking. If you don’t have it on hand, corn starch can be used instead.
  • Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce: Low sodium so that we can better control the salt level.
  • White Sugar: Granulated white sugar to balance out the savory and spicy flavors. You can use honey or maple sugar to sweeten the dish to taste. However, do note that it will alter the final flavor.
  • Pure Chili Oil: Use a Chinese or Japanese chili oil (La-Yu) without sediment (flakes or seeds) for extra heat. Feel free to leave it out for a milder dish.

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

Plate with spicy dry-braised shrimp and a rice bowl and serving spoon behind.

How to Make Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp

1. Cook the shrimp. In a large wok in hot oil until almost cooked through. Remove to a clean bowl and set aside.

Cooking marinated shrimp in a hot wok.

2. Sauté the dou ban jiang. Add the dou ban jiang to the wok and sauté for a few seconds until shimmering and fragrant.

3. Sauté the aromatics and pickled chilies sauce. Add the spring onion white and light green parts, garlic, ginger, fresh red chilies, and pickled chilies sauce. Stir-fry for a few seconds until fragrant.

4. Pour in the sauce. Stir to combine and allow to bubble for a minute to let the flavors meld.

5. Add the shrimp. Toss continuously until combined well and the sauce starts to thicken.

Process steps to make Sichuan dry braised shrimp in a wok.

6. Toss through spring onion. The spring onion dark green parts and just briefly until combined.

Dry braised shrimp with sauce in a hot wok sprinkled with spring onion.

Serve! Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with more spring onion. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice!

Plate with Szechuan dry-braised shrimp.
Closeup of spicy Szechuan shrimp garnished in a plate with spring onion garnish.

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Cook’s Tips

  • Use large jumbo-sized shrimp or prawns. This dish can be made with smaller sized shrimp if desired. However in my opinion, nothing beats the juicy and succulent texture of jumbo 16/20 size shrimp or prawns!
  • Strain out liquid from the pickled chilies sauce. Using too much of the liquid will cause the dish to become too salty. However, a small amount is good for salty umami flavor so there’s no need to vigorously squeeze all of it out.
  • Adjust spice level to taste. Use less (or omit) the fresh red chilies and chili oil for the stir-fry sauce. However, using less than the recommend amount of Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce will result in a milder flavored dish that may be slightly too bland. If you do decide to reduce the pickled red chilies amount, taste the sauce when it’s bubbling in the wok and add extra kosher salt to taste if needed.
  • Adjust sauce consistency to your preference. Reduce the amount of water in the stir-fry sauce for a less saucy dish if preferred. Double all the stir-fry sauce ingredients if you’d like an even more saucy dish.
Plate with spicy dry-braised shrimp and rice bowls and a serving spoon.

FAQs

How to dry shrimp before cooking?

The best way is to gently pat the shrimp dry after peeling and deveining (removing the shell, head, tail and the inner tract) and rinsing.

What is the best substitute for Sichuan pixian dou ban jiang?

You can use regular dou ban jiang (non-spicy and non-sweet version of bean paste) and mix it with some pure chili oil. Bean paste will be available in Asian and Chinese supermarkets.

Can I make this dish ahead?

This dish tastes best immediately after cooking and I do not recommend making it ahead. Making it ahead and reheating in the microwave will cause the shrimp texture to be altered. They may harden and become rubbery if reheated too long in the microwave and won’t be as juicy tasting like they are right after cooking.

Closeup of chili garlic shrimp dish and on a plate. Text overlay "Dry Braised Shrimp", "Sichuan Gan Shao Xia" and "thatspicychick.com".

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Closeup top view of plate with dry-braised shrimp.

Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp (Gan Shao Xia)

Juicy jumbo shrimp get briefly dry-braised in a lip-smacking and addictive garlicky and spicy sauce. This Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp is irresistibly delicious with a bowl of steamed rice!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Sichuan
Scale

Ingredients

For the Shrimp Marinade:

  • 250 grams / 9 ounces peeled and deveined Jumbo Shrimp (or prawns – size 16/20 preferred) – thawed if using frozen (see note 1)
  • 1/8 TSP Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 TSP ground White Pepper
  • 1 TSP Shao Xing Rice Wine
  • 1 TSP Potato Starch (or Corn Starch)
  • ¼ TSP Sesame Oil

For the Sauce:

  • 1 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1.5 TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
  • 2 TSP White Sugar
  • ½ TSP Potato Starch
  • 1 TSP Sesame Oil
  • 1 TSP Pure Chili Oil (optional – without flakes/seeds – see note 2)
  • 90ml / ¼ cup + 2 TBLS Water

For the Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp:

  • 2 Spring Onion (Scallion/Green Onion) – finely chopped, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts
  • 6 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 TBLS minced Ginger
  • 27 fresh Red Chilies (I used Thai Bird’s Eye chilies, but any small hot red chilies will work), to taste – finely chopped
  • 3 TBLS Peanut Oil (or any neutral flavored cooking oil)
  • ¾ TBLS Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Paste – see note 3)
  • 1.5 TBLS Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce (or Sambal Oelek – see note 4)

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Marinate the shrimp: Rinse and pat-dry the shrimp. Add to a medium bowl, followed by the kosher salt, ground white pepper, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, potato starch and sesame oil. Mix well to coat, then set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Make the sauce: Mix together the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, white sugar, potato starch, sesame oil, pure chili oil (if using), and water in a small measuring cup (for easier pouring) or bowl until combined well. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Chop the spring onion (separate the white and light green parts from the dark green parts), garlic, ginger, and fresh red chilies as indicated in the ingredients section. Measure the pickled chilies sauce and use a small fine mesh strainer and press down with the back of a spoon to strain out the excess liquid. (A little liquid is fine, but too much will make the dish too salty).

For the Sichuan Dry-Braised Shrimp:

  1. Cook the shrimp. Heat 3 tablespoons peanut oil in a large wok (or a deep heavy bottomed frying pan) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the marinated shrimp and allow to cook undisturbed for 30 seconds, then stir-fry for 30 seconds or until 80% cooked. Transfer to a clean plate or bowl and set aside. Scoop out and discard brown bits in the wok (if any).
  2. Sauté the dou ban jiang: Heat the oil in the wok over medium-low heat. Add the dou ban jiang and sauté for 20 seconds until shimmering and fragrant.
  3. Stir-fry the aromatics and pickled chilies sauce: Add the spring onion white and light green parts, garlic, ginger, fresh red chilies, and pickled chilies sauce. Stir-fry for 20-30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add the sauce: Give the sauce a quick stir with a spoon (to loosen up the starch at the bottom). Turn the heat back up to medium-high and pour in the sauce. Stir to combine and allow to bubble for 1 minute to let the flavors meld.
  5. Add the shrimp: Add the shrimp and toss continuously for 1 minute or until combined well and the sauce starts to thicken.
  6. Toss through spring onion greens: Toss through most of the spring onion dark green parts (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish). Switch off the heat.
  7. To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate/dish and garnish with the reserved spring onion. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice.

Notes

  1. Shrimp. I used pre-peeled and deveined shrimp. If using shrimp or prawns that haven’t already been peeled and deveined, use double the quantity (500 grams / 1.1 pounds). The weight will be approximately halved once peeled and deveined.
  2. Pure Chili Oil. Use either a Chinese or Japanese chili oil (La-Yu) without sediment (flakes or seeds) for extra heat. Leave it out for a milder dish.
  3. Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Paste). This is a salty, spicy, and slightly sour paste made with chili peppers and fermented fava beans. It comes in plastic jars. Look for it in an Asian or Chinese supermarket. While you can use Lee Kum Kee brand chili bean sauce, note that it has several additional ingredients and is sweeter than authentic Sichaun Pixian dou ban jiang. You may need to use less white sugar to suit your taste preference is using it instead.
  4. Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce. Traditionally, pickled er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) are used in Chengdu and the Sichuan region for this dish. As they are not easy to find and spoil quickly when you do find them outside of China, I used Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce. It has a salty, tangy and spicy flavor which I find is a great substitute. You can try to find it in an Asian or Chinese supermarket. Alternatively, grab a jar online. The closest readymade sauce substitute would be sambal oelek, a spicy chili sauce/paste from Indonesia. It is made with a chopped or crushed chilies, a little vinegar and salt. I recommend Huy Fong brand (same brand as the one for the popular Sriracha sauce) for this recipe if substituting. Or you can use a homemade sambal oelek. Mexican or Thai pickled chilies can also be substituted.
  5. Adjust spice level to taste. Use less (or omit) the fresh red chilies and chili oil for the stir-fry sauce. However, using less than the recommend amount of Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce will result in a milder flavored dish that may be slightly too bland. If you do reduce the pickled red chilies amount, taste the sauce when it’s bubbling in the wok and add extra kosher salt if needed.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 238
  • Sugar: 9.1g
  • Sodium: 685.4mg
  • Fat: 14.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 10.6g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 17g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 11.6g
  • Cholesterol: 78.8mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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